90,000 Parents Fined For Taking Children On Term-Time Holidays

7 July 2016
90,000 Parents Fined For Term-Time Holidays

Reports issues today show that as many as 90,000 parents were fined a total of £5.6m in the last school year year for taking their children on holiday during term-time. That's a massive 267% increase on the figures for the previous year.

The bank Santander conducted the research for the 2014-15 school year under a freedom of information request and gathered responses from 129 local authorities in England and Wales.

In 2013 the government tightened up the rules in England, saying that headteachers could authorise absences during term-time only in "exceptional circumstances" such as funerals. Previously, head teachers had discretion to grant up to two weeks of absence for pupils with good attendance records.

Santander said its findings suggested parents were becoming more willing to risk a fine and take their children out of school "to avoid the school holiday price hikes".

At the moment local councils in England can issue a find of £60 per child for each unauthorised absence, and that rises to £120 if the parent does not pay within 21 days. If the increased fine isn't paid within 28 days parents can be prosecuted. If prosecuted, parents could be fined up to £2,500, receive a community order or be jailed for up to three months.

Although that is the current situation in England there was a high court ruling earlier this year in favour of a parent who refused to pay the fine imposed by the local authority after a term time holiday. However the council in question is expected to take the case to the supreme court, and the Department of Education responded at the time saying that the law would not change.

To further confuse things the situation in Scotland and Wales is different to that in England, and each local authority is in charge of applying it's own fines as it sees fit, so there seems a wide disparity between different regions.

What do you make of this huge increase in parents being fined for taking their children on term-time holidays? Does it simply reflect the change in the government's policy? Or does it show that more cash-strapped parents are willing to pay the fine rather than the hugely increased holiday prices in school holidays? Let us know in the comments or over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   News and Recalls


  • Emma K.

    I'd pay the fine.

  • Jaime C.

    I'm about to pay the fine!

  • Sharon P.

    I took my daughter to disneyland Paris in May half term, chucked it down with torrential rain the whole time (worst rain in Paris in 100yrs) next time I think I'll take her out of school and go term time.

    • Catherine W.

      We were there too. The rain was ridiculous! X

    • Sharon P.

      it sure was. Was such a shame as was my daughters 1st time and her dream to go, just means I'll have to go again :-)

  • Michael G.

    I wouldn't take mine out of school. ..shame on any parent that would....

    • Danielle S.

      Shame on me then :wink: xx

    • Michael G.

      Tut tut you....

    • Michael G.


    • Lynsey K.

      Yeah, shame on my children's father for not being able to get annual leave during the school holidays. Shame on us as parents for wanting to have a new experience and to be with our children. You cannot just say shame on you to all parents. You don't know people's circumstances. My son's class were going on a residential trip, and we were told the staff were unable to accommodate his additional needs, meaning he couldn't go. So yes, I took him out of school so that he wasn't sitting in a class on his own. I had the school's permission, and funnily enough, feel no shame at all!

    • Danielle S.

      I think it's silly. Why shouldn't we be able to take them out for a week a year? I wouldn't dream of taking them out when they were having exams etc.....x they should bring the prices down or let them have the time off xx

    • Helen M.

      Some parents claim children are sick and have 75 percent attendance as they remove them whenever they feel they may be coming down with a cold. Other parents make sure they have full attendance unless they physically can't. I think they should investigate / fine if attendance drops below a certain percentage - they could encourage lying.

    • Victoria S.

      If you take your child out of school for a week and they can't catch back up i would say the teachers aren't very good at their job!

    • Michael G.

      If attendance is below 80% then they should get a hefty fine unless it's for genuine reasons it not easy to have 100% kids get ill

    • Mike J.

      Victoria, when are the teachers supposed to teach that work to the child?

  • Donna L.

    That fine is pointless. Everybody just includes it in their budget and still saves a fortune.

  • Emily W.

    I will be paying the fine when my daughter is at school. Term time holidays are a lot cheaper even with the additional fine AND my daughter will be experiencing cultures and therefore learning whilst away.

  • Mandie D.

    I'd pay the fine!

  • Emily B.

    The fine isn't a legal requirement. Your children have to legally attend school at 5 years old but it doesn't stipulate for how many hours a day/week/month/year. I wouldn't pay the fine, but then again, I don't think I'd take my child out of school unless it was completely necessary

    • Helen M.

      Even though the legal age is 5, they fine for taking 4 year olds out of school - yet legally, they don't have to attend school until the term after their 5th birthday. Foolish rule eh !

  • Sarah E.

    I'd pay the fine she is my child and as long as it isn't GCSE year or near any exams I don't see the harm in a week away!

  • Deb R.

    I don't think these fines should be enforced, should be parental choice when to take children out of school. But who has enough annual leave to take the school holidays off plus extra in term time anyway, plus polling days and random strikes by teachers? I know I don't, I have to use all my annual leave to cover the times when the school is closed and so have to stick with the school holidays regardless.

  • Marie A.

    I wouldn't take mine out ever

  • Samantha K.

    I recieved my fine yesterday for taking my son to Tenerife in June. £60 is a lot less than it would have cost me to take him in July or August. Also it was a celebration holiday for my moms 60th birthday and there was no way we was going to miss that.

    • Lucy M.

      I think the fine is ridiculous! Can I ask what would happen if this fine wasn't paid? We took our kids out of school in June - all I got was a letter stating they couldn't authorise the leave but I didn't get fined. (We live in Scotland so not sure if it's different or its just our school) x

    • Samantha K.

      We had a letter off the school saying it wasn't authorised which is what they have to do, they then report the absence to the LEA who decide whether to fine or not. My son has over 95% attendance and still got the fine:rage: we have 21 days to pay the £60 and if not paid we then have a further week to pay but it goes up to £120. Failing that it ends up in court where you can get fined up to £1000. It is absolutely ridiculous, talk about taking away parents rights. X

  • Louise R.

    I wouldn't, sorry but no!!!

  • Danielle S.

    I understand when children are having exams etc.....but why shouldn't we be able to take our children on a once a year holiday......? I'll happily pay the fines if they don't let me take mine out. X

  • Laura F.

    I'd call in sick

    • Claire S.

      Unfortunately, children are too honest! I'm a primary school teacher and a few years ago a little girl, aged about 7, was 'off sick' for a week. When she returned the following week, I asked her if she was all better, as I do whenever a child has been off sick. Her response was, "oh miss, I wasn't sick, I went to Disneyland, but shhh, it's a secret!" I had to laugh! Luckily, I knew the mum quite well so had a quiet word with her after school. She saw the funny side and came clean to the head teacher!

    • Laura F.

      But if the parent said no she was ill couldn't prove anything I'm sure

  • Sarah P.

    Id pay the fine rather than double the price of an holiday x

  • Victoria P.

    I take my children out for Two one week breaks each year. Luckily my children's school are very understanding of the need for family holidays. I cannot in any way shape or form afford a holiday in the school holidays. I will continue to do think until they are doing their exams. My children are virtually never off sick so their attendance is very good so missing 10 days does them no harm and we get to have some family time and make memories to last a life time!! I

  • Kirsty F.

    I don't think I would take my child out, I would worry she will fall behind at school. But she's only in year 2, I might change my mind in a few years

  • Maria M.

    I'd pay the fine.

  • Kelly C.

    Not everyone does it to save money, many have no choice due to when they can get holidays at work

  • Chelsee F.

    Makes me laugh on my news feeds the other day there was a post about the smoking in the car with children ban and how no one has actually been fined yet and apparently police have just issued warnings when they have caught people!!! Makes me so mad they take something like this seriously but a parent harming their child and putting their health at risk they just get a slap on the wrist tell me how this makes sense!!!:rage::rage:

    • Russell M.

      Police were told to issue warnings as legally they couldnt issue fines as the legislation was flawed.... and i believe still is. It was just half an article, but school fines are different anyway wnforced through the schools

  • Sophie W.

    I would pay the fine. We have been looking into a family holiday for next year. We have looked at term time and summer holidays and the price goes up by £1000 just for 4 nights. My daughter will be in reception and I think one week off of school should not affect her at that age.

    • Nikki S.

      They don't need to be in school legally until the term after their 5th birthday. You can't be fined otherwise :wink:

    • Rose W.

      U don't get fined until term after they turn 5 so u shouldn't get fined when they are in reception

  • Rachel D.

    Holiday company's should be banned for putting the prices up by silly amounts if they didn't put prices up ppl wouldn't take kids out of school then no parent would have to pay a fine

    • Sharon P.

      They don't put the price up. They massively reduce it in term time to sell the holiday. We went to Mauritius last yr in term time, and I'm not kidding, the plane had half it's seats empty. One next to me, two in front and behind. They slash the prices to try and fill those seats up. They don't need to reduce the holiday costs in the holidays as people will book them at full price. Guaranteed the plane would be full in the holidays.

    • Rachel D.

      But still if they wasn't a massive difference wouldn't take kids out of school e end places like centre parcs there's a thousand pound different in some

    • Sharon P.

      If you could take your children whenever, there wouldn't be the demand hiking the price up in the holidays. They charge that to make sure they cover quiet times. If people went all year around, the price would even out

    • Sharon P.

      And for me, it's not just the cost, it's how busy it is in holidays, I hate busy resorts. Plus I.like to go to destinations that don't have the same holiday season as us.

  • Sophie S.

    Rather pay the fine!

  • Julie D.

    So... What does the fine go on exactly? Lol

  • Jody M.

    Pay the fine but I got away with it :-)

  • Debbie K.

    Im lucky my daughter school doesnt fine you i have to take my child out in term time as its the only time we as a damily get to gave a holiday as hubby isnt allow to take annual leave in the school holidays as its there busys time

  • Lisa K.

    Not a debate I can be bothered getting into AGAIN

  • Gina F.

    This rule is a sledgehammer when it needs some common sense, two weeks a year out of school is to much but a one week family holiday will do no harm and create brill family memories. I have to admit I think time out once exam years start is a bad idea but stopping primary school kids going on holiday is silly x

  • Sarah A.

    I would pay the fine- if your child has good attendance I really don't see what the issue is.... Especially when teachers can decide they are going to let the children watch the football from 1pm...... !!!

  • Leese M.

    I'd pay the fine! Anyone in there right mind would

  • Kathryn M.

    10800000 wonder where that amount raised went to??

  • Kathryn R.

    Schools really drive me nuts. They are a service that parents choose to avail of and are they not beholden to them. If a parent chooses that their child can miss whatever is covered in one week/two weeks, then that is up to the parent to be responsible for that choice and to help the child catch up. Teachers will moan and whine about parents who won't do this and then it falls on them to have to help the child catch up. Well, you already planned and executed the lesson while the kid was away? So save the sheets and give it to them to do instead of the 'busy work' teachers always hand out. Is that not really really simple???

    • Helen A.

      Teachers couldn't care less actually if you take your kid out. How do you think we cope with absence through illness? It's the government who are bothered. This post has made me chuckle.

    • Kathryn R.

      Nice to hear an alternative opinion, usually these posts are chock full of teachers going on and on and on about how it falls on them to get kids caught up.

  • Kerry K.

    I'd pay the fine. I have been looking for next yr and some double in price for school hols which I can not afford. My daughter will be in y1 she has good attendance and performing above so why should that be an issue it should go down to attendance and the individual cildren. My husband works the best part of 60 hrs a week we value family holidays as it's the main time he spend a with the girls if we didn't go of term.time we wouldn't get holiday and family time to me is just as important.

  • Laura H.

    Each case should be looked at individually! My child has a spotless attendance record so if I want to take her on holiday during term time I will! I think it's insane to say all education is learnt in the classroom! People that can't be bothered to take their child to school or takes them out all the time for silly things should be fined not the parent that wants their child to learn and experience different things and cultures at a reasonable price!

  • Emma B.

    I wouldn't take my children out of school for a holiday, I think it's more important for their education then to save a bit of money but I do think it is down to the parents choice and shouldn't be fined for making that choice.

  • Emma R.

    Id pay the fine! :thumbsup:

  • Maryclaire B.

    Seeing as our holiday went from £1500 to £4500 to go I holidays I'll pay the fine

  • MrsM

    Took my daughter out of school last December to visit my 3 elder children from 1st marriage who all relocated to Australia and now live there permanently. It was the first time I and my daughter had seen my 2 sons / her brothers in over 4 years and a chance to see their new lives and spend a fabulous christmas with them all, staying with my eldest daughter and her partner. Even though her teacher told me it was such a great experience for us and she would only be missing making xmas decorations and school rundown to xmas, we were still fined. I was so tempted not to pay and take a stand re family importance but my husband just said to pay.

  • Marmite

    Do the teachers get fined for going on strike - they should as the children can't attend because of them.

    Double standards.

  • Natalie G.

    I took both my kids out last week in June they had done all there learning and there was nothing on that week , both had good attendance at end of term report I dnt think parents should b fined n where does the fine money go ?

  • Nikki P.

    I took my child out of school last month for 2 weeks and yes it was for a trip to US for Disney world and a family wedding, my daughter learnt and experienced so many differences cultures, and experiences while we were there. A visit to the Kennedy space centre educated us both and to let her see these things. It's once in a life time stuff. Education doesn't just stop at school.

  • Eleanor M.

    My husband gets told when his annual leave periods are. They include some of the school summer holidays once every two years, and there's never any guarantees about other school holidays. So every second year we'll be taking our child out of school in all likelihood, at least while she's young. And I won't be feeling guilty about it

  • Marie H.

    I've just come back from holiday and saw plenty of children out of school luckily my son doesn't start till September so one last cheapish holiday abroad...just down to the parents I think as long as the attendance is good and no exams are in place then go for it...my son learnt so much being away on holiday x

  • Emmanuell A.

    Don't pay! Challenge it!

  • Louise I.

    Luckily we don't have that hear,but I'd happily pay the fine if we did. It's unfair for larger families who work to keep their house,cars family etc then summer holidays boom shocking prices for july,also unfair on single parents having to pay full prices for their children. We choose to fly from Newcastle rather than Edinburgh as it also works out cheaper

  • Terri W.

    I have never taken mine out at term time...they are 8 and 6. We can't afford holidays abroad as prices are so high in school holidays so we have British holidays. They don't feel like hey are missing out and have great holidays. I however do feel the loss of sun :-(

  • Siobhan M.

    Surely it has to be an issue which is put forward to the travel companies who are taking advantage of parents trying to keep there children in school, recently a friend was looking to take her 3 away and it was over £1500 to go the two weeks before the holidays far out weighting the fines!! That's what needs to be stopped!!

    • Siobhan M.

      £1500 cheaper I should say!!

  • Sarah O.

    We have just paid! my 6yr old had 100% attendance and we were still fined but it was worth it to surprise my dad for his 60th birthday (he lives in the USA)

  • Joanna C.

    Our school theres been 5 kids off that i know of and none have been fined.

  • Joanna C.

    And i have 4 kids at school so not a cheaper option for me to take the fines

  • Joanne W.

    we took my son out for a week this year in may and will do the same next year in June. His attendance was 98.3%

  • Holly E.

    It could be the only week out the year that the family is altogether for quality time. Me and my partner stagger annual leave to cover childcare so if we were to take a holiday it would be the only time we'd be together all year other than a few days at Christmas

  • Peter B.

    A nice little earner for either the school or government.

  • Sara S.

    If a parent takes their child out of school term time I believe it is their responsibility to catch them up on work. I agree that the increase in holiday prices out of term time is outrageous. As a teacher that spends hours planning work, when a parent complains that their child is not on target and they have taken them out of school I do get frustrated. If every parent did this the work created would be huge and we would have no consistency in teaching.

  • supahan

    we are planning to emigrate to australia so had to make a trip to finalise a few things. We took our 2 children out of school for 6 school days and have been fined. The trip was educational for them as we explored perth. They learnt so much from the trip. My kids are in reception class and yr 4. We took work with us too. 

    Their attendance is still over 95% after this trip.

    However we have been fined. I have tried to contest it and have been told we have a strong case but it depends on the magistrate in court on the day.

    Our head did say that it doesnt pay to be honest and we shouldve phoned in sick! 

    I wouldnt mind paying the dine if i knew it was consistent. Other families have taken 10days out of school just before us and havent had a fine. It is like a lottery. A very unfair one....

    We have an extension of time period of which to pay the fine and i am hoping the law will change before the deadline is due...

    • supahan

      Fine not dine!

  • guest

    Anyone who takes there child out of school for a holiday is just selfish! You are effecting there eduction which is more important than a cheap holiday! Can't afford to go away in the holidays then tough sh*t really :information_desk_person_tone3:

  • Lynne123

    paid the fine last year,waiting for the fine this year! Due to work commitments we can't have certain holidays (can't always please everyone) At the end of the day these are our kids and we will take them on holiday when we wish,after all seeing different cultures and how the rest of the world works is more educational in my eyes than sitting in a room watching a movie for 100% attendance.

  • Sharon P.

    You can get an education on holiday. Not everyone goes on holiday for a cheap holiday on a sun lounger. We took my daughter out of preschool (so we were allowed)on a Caribbean cruise, but in 2 weeks she went on a helicopter trip over a live volcano, went to a pineapple farm, swam in a waterfall, saw lots of tropical plants, and wildlife. Went to a country with dual nationality. And went across the Atlantic on a cruise ship. Actually, when she was in the kids club she actually done more than they normally did at preschool. We also went to Mauritius during term time (again while in preschool) and we watched wild dolphins, went on glass bottom boat trips and visited the capital city. At the age of 5 she's lucky to have visited 8 different countries and is very ahead in her school work

  • Melanie T.

    When will people realise the issue is the holiday companies charging extortionate prices during school holidays which is the problem here. The holiday companies need some sort of price regulating as its ridiculous. Saying that I won't take my children out of school as I'd rather use my annual leave for when they're not at school and break up the long 6 week holidays.

  • Rachel H.

    I have and would pay it again for a cheaper holiday. My child attends regularly otherwise and is achieving above average results!

  • Anna H.

    I understand paying fines for speeding, littering etc and agree with them but being fined for taking my OWN children away for memories that will last a lifetime when the majority of us aren't millionaires who can afford to jet off whenever we feel like it just takes the absolute piss. Obviously education is important but my god the amount of awful things going on in the world I want to give my children as many happy memories as possible.

  • Louise C.

    It should be on a case by case basis, there are so many that cant be botheres to make sure there children go to school. As a single working parent. I spend all my time working to make sure we have a roof over our head, pay extortionate fees for childcare so that I can work. There is no way I can afford a half term holiday when the prices are triple. So I take them out in term time, I pay the fine and for one week a year I actually get to see my children.

  • Jessie J.

    I don't think it's fair to take ur child out of school. It's their education.... Why take that away from them? Kids are not at school much as it is, holiday are long u have half terms and inset days.

  • Laura P.

    Won't think twice about taking them out if I deemed it necessary. Where I can we'll go on holiday during school holidays which will be the majority of trips I suspect but occasionally the holidays we like to really save up for and go on we could only manage by encroaching into term time too.

  • Shauna M.

    Totally disagree with taking child out of school in term time. Education is too precious. There are plenty of holidays and yes while they are more expensive in school holiday time we all knew that before we had kids. I'd rather cut back in other areas than have my daughter miss a day of school unnecessarily

  • Allison C.

    We should fine schools for striking then too. At least days wages for those parents who've having take day off work!

  • Margarida D.

    Does anyone worry about what tgey are meant to learn? My son broke his arm badly, and between hospital stay and being back and ready for school ,he missed out on very important work... the teacher re-visited the subject but he still strugles with it. .. he hates that he still struggles. .. he is very very good at that subject...but this,really bothers him. And it wasnt about a week away in the sun

  • SarahandJohn M.

    We moved from the UK to the Republic of Ireland which has a much better system- attendence officer is notified after your child misses 20 days of school and you need to provide explanation- but holidays are acceptable. We take our children out for last week of summer term as we save SO much and couldn't afford holiday prices- but their attendence is good and I believe they learn so much from cultural experiences

  • Ema L.

    It should be about attendance levels, if your child falls below a "realistic" level then of course someone needs to talk to you about it and then try and help the family improve the attendance record, a fine should be a last resort for any school. A colleagues son had a week off due to illness and she received nasty letters from the school telling her she needed a GP note for future illness or she would be fined, poor woman is terrified and sending her child in Ill now. Let parents raise their own children and make choices that are best for them, their family and their situation.

  • Annie S.

    We haven't had a holiday as a family in over 5 years and we finally decided to stuff it and book during term time. The price doubles for a couple of weeks later just because it's school holidays and we just can't afford 3k for a holiday. I'm happy to swallow the £60 if it means the difference between being able to go away or not.

  • Sherrie S.

    If more people stood against this ridiculous poor penalty we could get this stupid law reversed to 90% attendance doesn't trigger a fine. My girls 12&13 attendance is high 90% they both top of their classes a holiday is cultural experience wherever u go. They learn more about other countries, beliefs, etc etc we have 2 weeks in June abroad and at Xmas my kids my choice!!!!

  • Rebekah R.

    Yeo lol!! Heard few talking about this round the pool!!! :sunglasses::sunglasses::sunglasses:

  • Bev B.

    Where my husband works is full of fathers. If they all wanted annual leave for the holidays a lot would be denied so then they would have no choice but to go on holiday during school time. So even if we all tried to stick to the ruling it's impossible for all to get annual leave at the same time. It should be looked at individually or just abolish the rule.

  • Fiona R.

    oh excuse us! Are you actually getting to lie at the pool!?

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